March 09, 2009 - Anti-
Before you can even crack the cellophane on Middle Cyclone, the artwork already bodes well for a bewitching album: There hasn’t been such a stunning redhead sprawled across the hood of a hot sports car since the Cars’ Candy-O in 1979. Rescuing a chorus of six dilapidated pianos from a termite-riddled fate, Neko Case coaxes unique tones out of each to create off-center harmonies laced throughout the record. Even though Case already pushed the envelope creatively on her previous effort, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, she goes one step further, using several homemade instruments resembling a music box and snake charmer’s flute. With her band and unmistakable backing vocalist Kelly Hogan supporting, Case navigates traditional love-song avenues with unorthodox lyrics. “This Tornado Loves You” assumes the cataclysmic ways a natural disaster could love someone. “People Got A Lotta Nerve” is all animal magnetism with a big, chirping chorus, exercising her bright range. “Marais La Nuit” ends the record with 40 minutes of the sounds of a marsh at night. We don’t quite know why, but with an album cover like this, we’ll give her a mulligan.
The New Pornographers’ Challengers
Kelly Hogan’s Because It Feels Good
Loretta Lynn’s Coal Miner’s Daughter